New Mexico Bans Death Penalty

Guv abolishes executions after wrestling with conscience
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2009 3:14 AM CDT
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said deciding to abolish the death penalty was the toughest choice of his political life.   (AP Photo/Roswell Daily Record Mark Wilson)
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(Newser) – New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has signed a bill abolishing the state's death penalty, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican. Richardson, who formerly supported capital punishment, said replacing execution with life in prison without the possibility of parole was “the most difficult decision of his political life.” He noted that 130 death-row prisoners have been exonerated in the last decade, four of them in New Mexico.

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime," said Richardson. His state becomes only the second to ban executions since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. The move will not affect the sentences of the two prisoners currently on death row.